cover image Mrs. Rose's Garden

Mrs. Rose's Garden

Elaine Greenstein. Simon & Schuster, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80215-7

A blithe spirit pervades this beguiling tale about a gardener with a generous heart. Greenstein's (Emily and the Crows) elegantly shaded paintings whimsically portray one Matilda Rose, a dedicated vegetable gardener who ""wanted to win a blue ribbon more than anything else in the world."" When her special mix of fertilizer produces gargantuan vegetables sure to sweep the county fair, however, the initially delighted Mrs. Rose realizes that the fun's gone from the game, and she decides to restore it by sneaking some of her doubtlessly victorious veggies into her neighbors' less-than-stellar crops. This way, everyone's a winner--including Mrs. Rose, who takes not only the blue ribbon for the biggest pumpkin, but also a special prize from her husband for ""having the biggest heart."" From the thoughtful detail on the endpapers (emerging seedlings and garden tools in the front, harvested vegetables and blue ribbons in the back) to the final peek at Mrs. Rose perched demurely on her prize pumpkin, the illustrations strike a winning balance between a simplicity of composition and a luxuriantly restful texture. Start to finish, this one comes up roses. Ages 4-8. (May)